Evan Janoch volunteers at
Angie's Institute as a mentor
to AYA cancer patients.

Finding Purpose in Survival

Evan Janoch was 16-years-old when he was diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia. On his first day of treatment, he remembers there being a waiting area for little kids and a space for the adults. He didn't belong to either group, but there was no place for adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients like him. In that moment, he realized how lonely his cancer would be.

"There weren't any other people my age going through cancer that I could talk to," said Evan, who underwent treatment for more than three years. "My friends and family were amazing, but they could only understand so much. I was alone in it."

After beating leukemia, Evan tried to start a new chapter and move on. "It's tough to talk about surviving cancer," he said. "I never really processed what I had gone through. I just bottled everything up and buried it in the back of my mind."

For several years, however, Evan was depressed and unfulfilled. Then, in 2015, he decided to make some changes. "There are things you learn about life during cancer treatment, but it's up to you to interpret it," he said. "I wanted my life to feel like it had meaning."

Hoping to get involved with the AYA patient community, Evan met with Amelia Baffa, RN, MSN, Nurse Navigator at the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. He started by attending survivorship meetings, but soon found a greater purpose and began volunteering at Angie's Institute in a mentorship role.

"I'm proof that there is life beyond cancer," said Evan. "It's important for AYA patients to see that and know that they have support from people who have been there before."

"I know how isolating cancer can be," he continued. "I want these kids to know they don’t have to do it alone."

Evan Janoch is a Patient Care Nursing Assistant at UH Geauga Medical Center and is currently interviewing for Physician Assistant Programs with the hopes of working in Pediatric Oncology.

How to You Can Help

Learn more about the future Andrew Uhrman Inpatient Unit, which will be located on the seventh floor of UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Together, we can improve the treatment and outcomes for children, adolescents and young adults battling a world turned upside down by cancer.